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10 Fun Facts About Motorcycle Names

Motorcycle companies know that the names of bikes are important. Here are some interesting facts about the coolest motorcycle names.

Any well-respected biker gang throughout history will be known for their toughness, their awesome name, and perhaps their uniforms. Additionally, if they’re famous enough, perhaps their bikes will go down in history as well. Motorcycle companies seem to spend quite a bit of time on making sure that their bike has a slick name that will attract bikers. While they do a great job most of the time, some of the names are just downright hilarious.

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We’ve compiled a list of 10 fun facts about a few of the motorcycle names that we found extremely interesting. While some of these are macho bikes, others just plain funny.

10 Scott Flying Squirrel Lives Up To Its Name

When we think of motorcycles, we tend to think of power, strength, and fast reliability. The name “Flying Squirrel” portrays none of those factors. However, in this case, it actually describes the motorcycle in a respectful and sensible manner.

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Developed by Alfred Scott in the early 1900s, this two-stroke sportbike featured a low center of gravity that allowed it to almost skim over the ground, allowing it to break several records in speed. Since the flying squirrel (an animal) is known for its ability to glide quickly over low ground, the name actually makes perfect sense for this nimble little bike.

9 Honda’s CBR stands for “Cross Beam Racer”

Honda’s CBR series is a line of motorcycles that have dominated the industry from the 1970s all the way to the present day. Its name is also one of the more discussed topics on various motorbike forums recently. Many fans throughout the years have tried to guess at the meaning behind the abbreviation, as the company was never very clear about it. Some of the fan favorites include “City Bike Racer,” as well as “Cool Boy Ride.”

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While these are hilarious, the real abbreviation is somewhat less exciting. “CBR” simply stands for “Cross Beam Racer,” a term referring to the engine’s position across the beam of the motorcycle’s frame. Disappointing, I know. We were really rooting for “Cool Boy Ride.”

8 The Kawasaki Ninja was technically named after a sailboat

If you’re a motorcycle enthusiast, you’ve probably heard the term “Ninja” referring to almost all cool sportbikes. In reality, the Kawasaki Ninja is just an extremely popular sports bike series that used to be called GPX900R, which is way less catchy. Originally, this 115 horsepower beast was going to be named “Panther.”

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However, American marketing director Mike Vaughn threw in the suggestion “Ninja,” the name of his sailboat. He thought the Japanese allusion sounded way cooler than “Panther.” In the end, it turned out to be a great decision, as the sportbike became one of the famous lineups in all history.

7 “Scat” Might Come From The Word "Scatter"

The Harley-Davidson Scat is technically a member of their esteemed Hummer series. Although the name doesn’t have the best ring to it, it will soothe you to know that it has nothing to do with animal droppings. Many believe the name comes from the word “scatter,” referring to the quick acceleration of this motorbike.

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The Scat is a bike of the ’60s, although vintage models are still being sold to various collectors and bike enthusiasts mostly online. It features a high-mounted bender, high handlebars, and street-legal off-road tires for multiple purposes. Although it looks like it has gone through some serious wear and tear in the photo above, the Scat was actually beautiful in its prime.

6 The Triumph “Thunderbird” origin is lamer than it sounds

Developed in the 1940s, the Triumph Thunderbird was one of the most popular motorcycles of its era. Fans love the bike for the power derived from its twin engines as well as the tough-looking exterior. The hype for the bike leads to many theories about the background of its awesome name. The logical conclusion for many fans was that the name derived from the legendary all-powerful being named the Thunderbird that was prevalent in native American folklore.

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Sadly, this exciting theory was debunked by the somewhat boring truth. In reality, the general manager simply stayed in a hotel called the Thunderbird Inn on his travels and fell in love with the name.

5 The Harley-Davidson “Fat Boy” doesn’t have a deeper meaning

Production for the Fat Boy started in 1990, obviously post-WWII. However, the time and the strange name caused a plethora of theories to form. The most popular by far is that the name is somehow a tribute to the two bombs that the United States dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, respectively.

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The reasoning behind this seemingly far-fetched theory lies in the fact that “Fat Boy” seemed to be a combination of the names of the bombs, which were “Fat Man” and “Little Boy.” While the notion is plausible, the real reason behind the name is much simpler. Harley-Davidson chose the name Fat Boy due to the fat front profile of the bike!

4 “Thor” lived up to its name

The Norse god of thunder is a character loved by practically everyone. Tough, agile, and hammer-wielding, the god is the very image of intimidation. The motorbike company has a lot to live up to after choosing this impressive name. The good thing is, they delivered quite nicely. The nimble, slim American motorcycle packed a punch and even displayed several victories in motorcycle racing. The bike was used on extremely dangerous sideways wooden tracks for racing, living up to the daredevil nature of the god Thor himself. In fact, drivers often died from injuries due to the races. How hardcore is that?

3 The “Snob” Didn't Last Very Long

In the 1920s, a German company came out with a motorcycle model named the “Snob.” While plenty of people expected luxury styling and fancy options, the actual product was little more than an upgraded bicycle. It featured a measly single-cylinder engine with a weak 155 cc. It wasn’t anything much to look at, either.

The motorbike did not sell very well and stopped production almost immediately. Although the Snob’s mediocre features may be in part to blame, we’re quite certain that the provoking name didn’t help its case either. Language barriers should always be kept in mind when naming products!

2 The “Silver Pigeon” Feels Light

Actually, the Silver Pigeon looks more like a glorified moped than anything else. Mitsubishi, the esteemed automobile company from Japan, went through a motorcycle period in addition to their cars. Although many would consider this bike to be more of a scooter, the engines do not lie. The 1963 Silver Pigeon features a 143 cc two-stroke twin-cylinder engine.

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Although the company hasn’t been very clear about the origin of the name, there are theories that it is derived from the bike’s feather-light feel and handling. A last fun fact about the Silver Pigeon is that it was presented to the emperor of Japan!

1 The Yamaha “YZ” abbreviation isn’t as exciting as fans hoped

Last but not least, (well, maybe least...) we have the big and powerful Yamaha YZ, a motorcycle made for sporting. This extremely popular racing bike has its fans puzzled about the abbreviation. Although many widely different theories can be found on the Internet, the most plausible remains to be “Yamaha Zinger,” which is a name that is both sensible as well as funny.

However, the reality isn’t so exciting. Actually, out of every bike on this list, the YZ abbreviation is probably the most disappointing. Much to the sadness of the fans, the YZ is pretty much a product code, with the Z being the engine model.

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